The Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, on Tuesday said that 58 suspected high profile electoral offenders were arrested during the 2019 general elections.
Adamu, represented by the Deputy Inspector General Operations, Abdulmajid Ali, disclosed this during the commission’s review of the 2019 general elections with the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security in Abuja.
The I-G said that 39 out of the 58 suspects had been conclusively investigated and charged to courts while 19 were still being investigated.
He said: “During the last elections, 58 high profile arrests were made; 25 were during the presidential and National Assembly elections, 17 during governorship election and 14 others.
“Out of this 39 were conclusively investigated and charged to courts while 19 are pending.”
Adamu said there is no gain saying that the experiences of last general elections and the relationship between INEC, the police and other security agencies is quite cordial.
He commended other security agencies, particularly the military for the cooperation given to the Nigeria Police Force and INEC during the elections.
He said: “I want to also assure that the police and other security agencies are ever ready to put in more efforts in ensuring that the forthcoming governorship elections are free, fair, and credible.”
He said that the review came at the right time, particularly when INEC is preparing for Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections.
Early in his remarks, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that proven misconduct during the 2019 elections must be dealt with according to the law.
Yakubu said dealing with electoral offenders is one of the surest ways to address impunity and instill sanity in the electoral process.
He said that he was happy to note that the Nigeria Police Force made several arrests of suspected electoral offenders during the general elections.
He said: “While we will continue to do our best working with the security agencies in this regard, I wish to renew the call for the establishment of the Electoral Offences Tribunal.”
Yakubu said that democracy and credible elections would be deepened where electoral offenders are swiftly prosecuted.
He said: “For instance, in the recent general elections in South Africa held in May 2019, some electoral offenders were arrested and swiftly charged to court even before the election was concluded.”
Yakubu said that in preparing for the 2019 general elections there is elaborate plans for the deployment of the security agencies.
He said: “In many instances, this arrangement was seamlessly carried out. In a few cases, however, the processes were disrupted, necessitating the declaration of some elections as inconclusive under the law.
“The Commission then immediately remobilised to conclude the elections.
“From our assessment, insecurity as a result of violent disruption of processes was the major reason why a number of elections had to be declared inconclusive.”
The INEC Chairman, however, expressed concern about the safety of INEC personnel, property and the sanctity of the electoral process in the Nov. 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa.
Yakubu said: “Given the history of political violence, resulting in the governorship elections being declared inconclusive in the two states in 2015, the Commission is concerned about the safety of our personnel, properties and the sanctity of the electoral process.
“The politicians in Bayelsa and Kogi must shed off the toga of political violence associated with elections in the two states.
“I am glad to note the peace efforts in Bayelsa state through a broad-based Stakeholders’ Summit on Violence-free elections.
” I am also glad that some concerned leaders in Kogi state are considering a similar initiative.”
Yakubu assured the leaders of the two states that the Commission would work with them to ensure peaceful and credible poll.
He also assured all voters in the two states that INEC would protect the integrity of the electoral process and ensure that the will of the people prevails.
He added: “We will also work with the security agencies to ensure professionalism and neutrality in strict compliance with their rules of engagement.”